Pony No More: The New Updos

This fall/winter, get creative with your hair!  Buns and braids are the most popular updos after the ponytail.  There are so many ways you can section off and gather up your hair, and we recommend that you experiement to find out which styles work best for you.  Whether you're constantly on the run or have ample time to fix up your hair, we've got ideas for you!  

Buns and chignons are two terms for the same thing.  The fanciest ones are created by sectioning off hair beforehand.  Make a small bun wherever and secure with an elastic, then use bobby pins to incorporate the remaining hair piece-by-piece, wrapping them around the original bun for volume or pinning them into a criss-cross pattern atop the bun by pulling strands from the left side of your head over the bun to the right side and vice-versa.

If you have short or thin hair, you can create an easy faux chignon by twisting pieces of hair into tight little spirals and pinning in place at the nape of your neck until you have a row of little twists.  Tuck or pin in remaining strands of hair loosely if you want a more undone look or securely if you want to look polished.  Don't have time for bobby pins?  For a simple running-late-to-class bun, just lean forward and gather hair into a ponytail that comes right out of the top of your head.  Standing up straight, spiral the ponytail into a loose, messy bun perched on the crown of your head.  Simple yet fun.

There are four staple braiding styles, and all are fairly easy to learn from beauty YouTube channels or from a friend.  Once you have these down, the styling possibilities are virtually endless!  So what are these four braiding styles?  Well, they are (1) the regular braid, (2) the French braid, (3) the fishtail braid, and (4) the rope braid.  These distinct, tried-and-true braiding styles can be seen from campus to the runway. You can take any of these braids and whip up a simple hairstyle, like a braided headband: just grab a section of hair above an ear, braid it to the end, and then pin it so that it lies across the crown of your head and ends above the opposite ear. Done!  You can also start a braid on either side of your head and then fuse them into a ponytail once they each reach the nape of your neck for a boho look.

Braids are wonderfully versatile.  You can braid your hair, secure the end, and be off!  You can make multiple braids and them braid them together into a thicker, more convoluted braid.  You can take a completed braid and then twist it up into a bun, placing it at the back or your head or off to one side.  To give a braid some texture and volume, first secure the end and then tug out along the sides all the way to the top so that it loosens up and thickens outward.  Leave as is or fold up and secure into a twist or chignon.

Use walk-throughs from Beauty Blogs and Pinterest as an inspirational  starting point, but don't be disheartened if you spend two hours on your hair only to have it look like your cat is sitting on your head.  It's frustrating when these "effortless" step-by-step DIY hairstyles turn out to be anything but.  The issue is often simply that your hair is a different length or thickness from the photographed woman's. Keep this in mind as you try out variations of updos.  If your hair is short or thin, you have the advantage when it comes to pinned buns and chignons because the weight of your hair won't pull out the bobby pins holding your style in place.

If you've exhausted a variety of braid, bun, and ponytail styles without finding one that you love, give accessories a try!  A thin plastic headband (or two!) can turn even the frumpiest bun or chignon into a classy look!  Also experiment with head scarves for a bit of color.  Wrap them under your hair and tie at the crown of your head, or flip it and tie the scarf at the nape of your neck for a flattering headband.  You can also try weaving a scarf into a messy twist or braid, or even just wind a small silk scarf around a bun.  

If you're still a die-hard ponytail fan, why not add a cute modification to give yours a fresh look?  If you section off the hair at the front and crown of your head and then make your usual ponytail with th1e hair that's left, you can backcomb the hair on top before pinning/tying it in with the rest to give yourself for a vintage pouf.  Just remember to have fun with it!  If a style doesn't turn out how you wanted it to, don't sweat it!  Hair is very forgiving; you can always brush it out and start again.


A Chicago native, Elizabeth is going into her senior year at the College of William & Mary, where she is majoring in Psychology and Literary & Cultural Studies. Last year she circumnavigated the globe and visited 12 developing nations with a study abroad program called Semester at Sea, honing her travel writing skills and chasing her dream of someday working abroad. Currently she is the Editor-in-Chief of the literary magazine Winged Nation and the Philanthropy Chair of her beloved music sorority, Nu Kappa Epsilon. When she's not writing her butt off for class or for pleasure, she can usually be found practicing harp, watching Community, or hanging out with her Phi Sigma Pi brothers.

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